"HVAC is very important in vertical farming because it can control and optimize the growing environment of the plants. Resulting in healthy plants and high yields. If done properly," says Edwin Snabel, HVAC and Indoor Farming expert at Bosman Van Zaal.
There are six advantages of an HVAC system for vertical farming:
- HVAC ensures an optimal temperature in the growing environment, which is crucial because plants develop optimally within a certain temperature range. An optimal and constant temperature range ensures optimal plant growth, resulting in maximum yield.
- HVAC provides the right humidity level in the growing environment, which is essential for plant growth. An HVAC system can maintain constant humidity levels and thus provide optimal growing conditions.
- HVAC ensures good air circulation in the growing environment, which provides sufficient CO2 and oxygen for healthy plant growth. Additionally, air circulation can help prevent mold and rot.
- HVAC ensures good air quality in the growing environment by filtering out pollutants like dust, mold, and bacteria, which creates a healthy growing environment. The filtration system can also reduce odors in the environment.
- A good HVAC system can contribute to a sustainable vertical farming operation by reducing energy consumption, water consumption, and operational costs.
- HVAC systems can improve water quality by regulating the pH and dissolved oxygen in the water, which is important for plant growth.
According to Edwin, to optimize an HVAC system for vertical farming, there are several important considerations to keep in mind to choose the right HVAC system for your vertical farming operation, considering your specific needs and circumstances: There are different types of HVAC systems available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Some systems regulate temperature and humidity, while others regulate CO2.
Additionally, some HVAC systems may be more energy-efficient than others. When considering energy consumption, some factors to consider are: Can you use waste heat? Can you use free cooling directly or indirectly, allowing you to use other sources and, in some cases, reduce energy consumption by up to 85%?
"Dehumidification requires energy, so it is important to determine the best technique for the specific situation to save energy. We examine the most favorable dehumidification method. This starts with the initial condition of the crop and the corresponding climate. Then we can focus on the best technology for the specific situation and choose what is best to apply. Energy can be saved by choosing cold recovery methods such as cross-flow heat exchangers, heat pipes, or run-around coils."
The choice of refrigerant used in the cooling systems affects, among other things, the purchase price, service and maintenance costs, energy consumption, and lifespan.
Maintaining the HVAC system
Properly maintaining an HVAC system can ensure that the system remains efficient and lasts longer. It is important to perform regular maintenance, such as replacing filters and cleaning ducts.
HVAC systems can produce a lot of noise, which can be a nuisance to the surrounding area. It is important to pay attention to the different noise levels during the design phase. Growing spaces without personnel require different sound requirements than processing spaces, for example.
In addition, it is necessary to map the environment so that the design of, for example, a chiller/cooling water installation can also take the noise level into account. Higher requirements will be placed in a built environment than in an industrial area.
On top of that, lighting is also of great importance in vertical farming. It is important to adjust the lighting to the HVAC system so that an optimal growing environment is created. In addition, controlling lighting can also help reduce energy consumption.
Using advanced technologies
An HVAC system can help control the growing environment, but it is important to regularly measure and adjust temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels as needed. This can be done, for example, through sensors and monitoring systems. Finally, advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning can be used to optimize HVAC systems for vertical farming. With our developed software solution, Polariks, we offer a tool that consists of multiple modules.
This can use all available data, which we analyze, make a digital twin, perform predictive maintenance and performance management, and apply hyperspectral image recognition. These technologies can help automatically adjust the growing environment to the needs of the plants, which can lead to higher yields and more efficient energy consumption.
"All in all, HVAC is an essential component of vertical farming. It provides an optimal growing environment for plants, resulting in healthy plants and high yields. By choosing the right HVAC system, monitoring and adjusting the growing environment, creating good air circulation, filtering air, and optimizing energy consumption, HVAC can be optimized for vertical farming," Edwin concludes.
For more information:
Bosman Van Zaal
Tel.: +31 297 344 344